Republicans Think Evangelical Christians Experience the Most Discrimination
Discrimination and bigotry get a great deal of attention from the public these days, especially in more recent years, with the rise of movements like Black Lives Matter and #MeToo. Despite these issues successfully working themselves into the daily conversation, not all Americans are in agreement about which groups face the brunt of discrimination in modern society, it seems.
A recent Pew poll takes a look at this topic. Particularly interesting is their finding that views on discrimination vary widely along partisan lines — Democrats and Republicans appear to have a rather different understanding of social dynamics in the United States.
Among Republicans, 70 percent believe evangelical Christians face some degree of discrimination; 30 percent believe this group faces “a lot” of discrimination. Evangelicals top the poll for Republicans, with Muslims following close behind at 69 percent and black people at 66 percent. The majority — 58 percent — also say white Americans face discrimination.
Democrats, on the other hand, see Muslims and black Americans as the most discriminated groups, with 92 percent holding such views. When it comes to white Americans and evangelical Christians, however, the poll results are drastically different from Republicans: Just 25 percent responded that whites are discriminated against while only 32 percent say the same of evangelicals.
Why is there such a wide gap here? It’s important to compare these figures from past Pew polls. For certain groups, like Muslims, black Americans and Hispanics, Republicans who say these groups face “a lot” of discrimination have either declined or held fairly steady over the past six, and particularly, the last three, years — whereas a growing number say evangelicals and whites are discriminated against “a lot” over this period.
It is not particularly difficult to see why this is the case. Rhetoric among conservative Americans has intensified dramatically as traditionally oppressed groups like members of the LGBT community and black Americans have made their struggles more visible and made civil rights gains. It’s also worth noting that this type of push back was also one of the cornerstones of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
In addition to Trump’s frequent appeals to the evangelical Christian base of the Republican Party (Michelle Bachman has recently come under fire for declaring him to be a “highly biblical” person and that Americans will likely “never see a more godly” president again), conservatives across the country have resumed pushes for legislating so-called “religious freedom” laws.
These laws are framed as being necessary to protect individuals’ and businesses’ right to, for example, refuse a service to individuals who they view as opposing their religious views. The reality is that these laws simply aim to erode LGBT people’s rights by making public discrimination legal and perfectly acceptable — all in the name, ironically, of curbing discrimination against evangelical Christians.
At present, 21 states have some version of these types of laws and a handful of others are considering them.
For a group that has a presidential administration and various state governments successfully pushing laws that essentially protect the ability to discriminate against historically oppressed groups — can it really be justified to claim there is increased discrimination against evangelical Christians? This represents a dangerous lack of understanding of history and reality that ultimately only serves to roll back forward movement in civil rights.
This article was originally published on Care2.com on April 27, 2019.